Super Furry Animals
Dark Days/Light Years
* * * *
Dark Days/Light Years could well be considered the second coming for my favourite Welshmen, the Super Furry Animals. Always innovative, the band performed the album in a live webcast to celebrate the digital release of the album in March, which was prefaced with a series of videos shot during each recording session.
After a choppy excerpt of such a session, the album launches into the fantastic with the unstoppable experimental force that is ‘Crazy Naked Girls’. If you didn’t engage with previous releases Love Kraft or Hey, Venus!, fear not – the Furries will now have your full attention.
Built upon an infectious work of percussion, the song boasts not just the usual daft wordplay but also some impressive guitar riffs and solos, the likes of which have yet to grace a SFA record to date. Perhaps someone spent the winter playing Guitar Hero: World Tour? ‘Crazy Naked Girls’ cascades into a mess of wah-wah guitars and grunge pedals – a bold move that pays off.
A diverse record, Dark Days/Light Years demonstrates the breadth of influences upon the band and their dedication to pushing the boundaries of their sound. The juxtaposition of Gruff Rhys’ Welsh pop and Nick McCarthy’s (of Franz Ferdinand) German rapping in ‘Inaugural Trams’ makes for a very catchy monochrome beat reminiscent of Kraftwerk.
‘White Socks/Flip Flops’ sees the song material spill over into the ridiculous, but you’ll soon find yourself singing along and harvesting weirded-out stares on the monorail. Guitarist Huw ‘Bunf’ Bunford takes on the mantle of vocalist with swaggering results.
Rhys’ vox are at their most mellowed out on ‘Where Do You Wanna Go?’, an earnest ditty spanning a sweet two and a half minutes. Perfect to herald the coming of summer, this Beach Boys-esque track is sure to have you reaching for your beach towel.
The album closes with ‘Pric’, a gorgeous offering complete with melancholic warblings and repetitions. A sitar-like riff drives the song, but the track houses so many other whistles, tinklings and video-game inspired bleepings that it cannot be described as dated, rather as an ‘episode’ of jamming at its finest.
The Furries leave their familiar stamp of psychedelic, pun-loving fun on Dark Days/Light Years, but have proven themselves open to taking chances and expanding their sound. The results are invigorating for a band who have just released their ninth studio album; a joyful celebration of the absurd.
Dark Days/Light Years is out April 21 on Rough Trade Records.